Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why are James Inhofe and Lamar Smith determined to sacrifice our grandchildren?

Provocative title? You bet. I lay in bed last night at around midnight thinking of that title, and wondering why these two members of Congress continue to deny the strongest science about climate change, continuing for years--decades, even--to obfuscate the reality of human-caused climate change. Lamar Smith is the Republican representative from Texas who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He remains prominent in the news (even yesterday) for his climate-denying antics. I could list all that he has done over the years to deny the unassailable science on human-caused climate change, but this paragraph of November 2016 from The Washington Post will do:

"Smith, 68, an attorney from San Antonio who’s represented the area northwest of the city since 1987, rejects the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind global warming. He’s used his perch as committee chairman to subpoena federal climate scientists to discredit their research, issuing a record number of legal summonses this Congress and turning a panel that was once a sleepy backwater into an aggressive attack dog."

James Inhofe is the Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and author of the book "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future." He is the Senior of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and he also serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He once said infamously, "God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human begins, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

Inhofe's religious views are his religious views, and I have no problem with that, of course. However, why is he so prominent in these powerful committees on the environment and science, two public domains that must be separated from personal religious views?! If he were a critical thinker, he would know that his religious views do not mesh with those of modern science, and that he should therefore remove himself from these committees. I must conclude that he is not a critical thinker at all, and that he simply remains attached to his far-right dogma. INHOFE may be the greatest hoax perpetrated on humans world-wide!

So why do these men do what they do, to continue for years steadfast in their beliefs--hopes, maybe--that all the fossil-fuel burning we have done since the Industrial Revolution has not had an impact on the climate, even though an understanding of basic physics demands that we acknowledge the heat-trapping effects of greenhouse gases emitted into our thin atmosphere? Are they evil? I doubt that, but perhaps I can write with confidence that they are functionally evil. Reading about them leads me to believe that they love their children just like I do, and they want the best futures possible for generations to come. It must come down to power and money, then. Both men have received large sums of money for their campaigns from fossil fuels companies, and they must enjoy the work they do as public servants, and the power that is granted to them through that service. As Upton Sinclair once stated, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

They are not serving the larger public at all. Their highly-visible, continued denial of phenomena that we can all feel and see, and that are backed up by the strongest science available on any subject, puts us all at risk. (Just minutes ago, I saw the forecast for Sunday, February 12 in Asheville, NC: 79 degrees F!) If we continue down this path of unabashed greenhouse gas emissions, scientists tell us that we could make the earth uninhabitable for most animals (including humans). I don't think we are heading towards the worst possible scenarios, as there seems to be movement towards the acknowledgement for the need to act, but I could be wrong. There is a path forward to stave off the worst effects of climate change, but the public and the majority of our representatives must create the political will to affect change. Sticking with our commitment to every other nation on earth to reduce our greenhouse emissions (December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement), and then getting down to work to create a bipartisan plan (simplest: fee on carbon) to reduce GHG emissions, may be our only last hope.

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